Archive for October, 2013

The Red House Children’s Book Award 2014 shortlist has been announced!

The Red House Children’s Book Award is the only literary award voted for entirely by children, and the shortlist for 2014 has now been announced. With a heavy animal theme in the younger categories, there is also some gripping sci-fi and compelling murder mysteries for those in the older categories. The winners of the prestigious awards, including the victor of the overall category, will be announced at a glittering ceremony at Southbank Centre’s Imagine Children’s Festival on 22 February. Your child can vote for their favourite over on the Red House Children’s Book Award website.

Younger Children Shortlist
The shortlist for Younger Children finds some familiar authors facing up against some fresh faces, but every book is a winner. Rachel Bright is a very talented author and illustrator and Walter and the No-Need-to-Worry-Suit is the first entry in a rather enchanting new picture book series. Telling the story of Walter the rabbit as he prepares for sports day, it’s a lovely book for little ones. One of the best author and illustrator teams around for children, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler have done it again with Superworm, a picture book that tells the unlikely story of a surprising superhero. With Julia’s rhyming text and Axel’s iconic artwork, this is a laugh-along read that is perfect for sharing.

How to Hide a Lion is Helen Stephens’ amazingly fun-packed story about a girl who tries to hide a lion staying in her house from her parents. Will they be able to find the lion as it hides behind a shower curtain, in bed or even up a tree? A heart-warming tale of friendship, this is a wonderful bedtime read. Finally, there is Jeanne Willis’ Hippospotamus, a laugh-out-loud tale about a hippo with a spot in a rather unfortunate place. Whatever he tries, he just can’t get rid of it, despite the expert advice from all his animal friends…

Younger Readers Shortlist
The Land of Neverbelieve is a wonderful keepsake book from the famous artist Norman Messenger. A place where chocolate grows on trees, mountains tell stories and fish fly through the sky at night, this is truly a one-of-a-kind book. Exquisitely illustrated and bursting with imagination, it contains a vivid world that will absorb all children. Atticus Claw Breaks the Law is the purrfect read from Jennifer Gray, following famed cat burglar Atticus as he moves in with Inspector Cheddar and his family and comes to a crossroads in his crime-filled life. Claude in the Country follows Alex T. Smith’s much-loved canine character as a quiet walk in the country evolves into a busy day on the farm, complete with lassoing a bull, feeding chickens and mucking out the pigs!

Older Readers Shortlist
A taut and pacy thriller that forms part of the Murder Notebooks series, Anne Cassidy’s Killing Rachel covers Joshua and Rose as they struggle to solve the mystery of their missing parents. When Rose receives a number of distressing messages from her former best friend Rachel, which culminate in Rachel being found dead, this opens a whole new side to the duo’s investigations… Artemis Fowl author Eoin Colfer returns with W.A.R.P.: The Reluctant Assassin and it is a fast-paced book teeming with excitement, action and humour. A tantalising mixture of science fiction and good old-fashioned storytelling, it’s a thrilling read for anyone aged 11 or over. Finally, we have The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey’s epic dystopian blockbuster for young adults. With captivating characters who are facing up against all the odds, this is a cinematic and page-turning read.

To find out more about the Red House Children’s Book Award and cast your vote, visit


Guest blog: Tom Moorhouse – Water voles, River Singers and humans

Tom Moorhouse is the author of The River Singers, a real favourite with us here at Red House. A heart-warming story about four small water voles embarking on a long and perilous journey along the Great River, Red House Reader Caroline-Alice Westwood was very impressed, saying it was ‘A definite 5/5 for this book from me.’ In this guest blog, Tom discusses more about his love of these wonderful creatures and how they inspired him to write such an awe-inspiring novel.

‘If you think about it water voles are pretty strange. Well, you probably haven’t thought about it, and I don’t blame you. I’m sure you have plenty of other things to do, and thinking about water voles when you’re meant to be in a Maths lesson, or learning French or something, isn’t really very normal. I, on the other hand, have spent quite a lot of my life thinking about water voles. For eight years my job was to study how their populations worked and whether anything could be done to stop them from disappearing from the British countryside. I had to think about questions like “How many plants do water voles require for food and shelter?” and “If we were going to release a new population, how much habitat would we need, and how many voles to go in it?”. The answers could often only be found by going to the places where they live and studying them there.

One of the things you quickly realise about water voles – which are bigger than you think, only slightly smaller than rats – is that their lives are incredibly dangerous. I met thousands of them but only a handful survived two winters. The rest didn’t even live that long before being eaten a fox, stoat, weasel, heron or something else. In fact death by natural causes for water voles means “being eaten by something”. But that’s okay. It’s normal. Individuals have good defences: they survive by diving into the river and swimming away from danger. They have burrows to escape into and are amazing at hiding in tall plants. Eventually they will be unlucky, but the population as a whole survives because they breed incredibly quickly. During the summer the predators actually can’t keep up, and the riverbanks fill to bursting with water voles.

Under normal circumstances water voles do just fine. After all, they’ve been around for about 10,000 years. Sadly we don’t live in normal circumstances and we lost the vast majority of our water voles in the last 50 years or so. I won’t go into why this happened, but it involves a new predator, the American mink, which is Very Bad News. If you’re interested, you can learn more here.

For me the strangest thing about water voles is that, despite the constant threats, they seem to have quite a nice time. If find a place where they live, you can sit on the bank and watch them. They swim around in the sun. They sit on a floating mat of plants and groom their whiskers, or gnaw on a stem. They drag bits of chopped-up reed to the edge of the bank and eat them there. They scratch themselves, then dive in and come up somewhere else, before getting out, shaking dry and running up into their burrow. They look, as far as anyone can tell, happy. Of course, if they hear a sudden noise they’re all attention – frozen motionless, whiskers vibrating. And they hit the water with a distinctive ‘plop’, kick up a cloud of sediment, and are gone. (Just because you’re not constantly terrified it doesn’t mean you’re not alert.)

This balance between the danger and normality of water voles’ lives is part of what made me want to write about them. My book, The River Singers, is the story of four young water voles, Sylvan, and his brother and sisters, growing up on the Great River. When a mink attacks them in their burrow they are forced to make a perilous journey down the river to find a new home. My characters live with the knowledge that death is waiting for them the second they aren’t careful enough. But the river is also their home, a beautiful, wonderful place where they deeply belong. They deal with things all much as everyone does: they squabble and bicker and use industrial quantities of sarcasm, but also support and care for each another. And in that way their lives aren’t really all that different to ours. Everyone is just getting on with the business of living.

And that, if you think about it, makes we humans pretty strange too.’

Tom Moorhouse

The River Singers
by Tom Moorhouse is published by Oxford University Press in hardback and is available from Red House for just £5.49 (RRP – £10.99).

Recent additions to the Book People’s range of books!

With the clocks going back and the evenings drawing in ever earlier, our thoughts have headed towards the big day itself – yes, Christmas is now under two months away! What makes a better gift than a book? We have a tantalising selection of books that would make the perfect present for all your friends and family. Whether they’re a big contemporary fiction fan or a non-reader who would love a funny gift book, head over to the main Book People site and fill up your basket. We’ve recently added even more great value titles, but remember stock is limited so make your order today!

And The Mountains Echoed is the new novel from Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, and has been the talk of the office ever since we got our hands on it. Spanning across generations, it is a story of love, friendship and compassion that begins in Afghanistan but soon moves across vast continents as a deep family bond is torn apart… I Am Malala is the inspirational and shocking autobiography from Malala Yousafzai, a schoolgirl who stood up and spoke out when the Taliban took control of her hometown. Shot in the head while riding the bus home, her miraculous recovery took her on a journey that resulted in her speaking to the United Nations on her 16th birthday, under a blanket of media coverage.

For those after something a little lighter, romantic fiction fans will love Karen Swan’s Christmas at Tiffany’s. A perennial festive favourite with the Book People, this is the third bestseller in three years with a distinct Christmas theme from this most talented of authors. We also have something to appeal to all those GBBO fans out there – The Great British Bake Off Everyday contains 100 foolproof recipes that will make your festive season taste sublime. With forewords from Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, the baking book will be a great addition to any kitchen shelf.

Children will enjoy a trip into the bizarre with bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s new book, Fortunately, the Milk. Complete with anarchic illustrations from Chris Riddell, the book finds Dad left in charge with one instruction – DON’T FORGET THE MILK! But this is the one thing he has done. When he heads back to the shop to get more, he finds himself delayed by some quite remarkable and slightly absurd characters… Completely massive, the 1,000 Dot-to-Dot Book will provide hours of entertainment as you work your way through a series of intricate and complex dot-to-dot patterns that will reveal a number of famous faces.

One cheeky book that will also raise a smile as you enjoy the Christmas holidays is Fifty Sheds Damper. A brilliant follow-up to last year’s parody of E.L. James’ massive bestseller, this time around the book features even more one-liners and puns that may be rude, but are frankly hilarious. A superb gift book for anyone who has read (or is even not a fan of) Fifty Shades of Grey!

Karen Swan, the Book People
Malala book
Fifty Shades of Grey

Our favourite film adaptations…

For those of you who love to spend your evenings and weekends (when you’re not reading of course) at the cinema, the Book People has the perfect book for you. 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die is a detailed compendium of some of the best films ever made and each one is a must-see. From smash-hit blockbusters to cult classics and those that perhaps went under the radar, each film featured is examined in detail by leading film critics. Revealing just why these films are so celebrated and the reasons you should make time for each one, be it for unforgettable characters, sumptuous cinematography or its groundbreaking cultural impact, this is a book you will return to again and again.

films movies lists must see

The relationship between film and literature is obviously very close and many adaptations of unforgettable novels feature in this book, which we’re selling for just £9.99 (a massive £20 off the RRP of £30!). A must for film buffs and a great gift as we approach Christmas, the book inspired us here in the office to start talking about our most-loved books and their film adaptations. Here are some of the Book People Social Media Team’s favourites:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett – It’s rare that a character you imagine so clearly whilst reading the book is portrayed perfectly in the film adaptation, but the character of Aibileen was played so beautifully by the actress Viola Davis, I couldn’t fault her – it even earned her a BAFTA nomination!

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby – How could the distinctly British story of a record shop owner with huge commitment issues and a penchant for Top Five lists translate so well across to the big screen? John Cusack delivers a career-best performance as the put-upon and cynical Rob Gordon (his surname’s Fleming in the book) and the setting moves over from London to Chicago. Despite this drastic change of environment and some of the overtly British references swapped for American ones, the heart of the story remains just as strong and Cusack is wonderfully supported by Iban Hjejle, Todd Louiso and Jack Black. The soundtrack’s great too.

The big-screen adaption of The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick is certainly worth a watch and it’s also definitely a must-read in its paper format. After a personal crisis that exposes Pat’s mental instability and a subsequent stint in a psychiatric hospital, he returns to his parents’ home determined to fix his relationship with his wife and with a new outlook based on ‘Excelsior’. However, when Pat meets the intriguing Tiffany, unbeknown to him the path to exactly where he wants to end up is laid before him. He just needs to decide if he wants to follow it… With a host of brilliantly constructed characters, believable scenarios, heartbreak and humour, I can’t recommend Silver Linings enough.

My favourite book that’s been turned into a film is Mystic River by Dennis Lehane. This gripping thriller tells the story of three old friends who are bought back together after a tragedy, and had me hooked from the first chapter. I’m usually hesitant to see movie adaptations of books I’ve enjoyed so much, but found this film was very true to the book. It had been made so well, I felt like by watching it I was recreating the images I had of the book in my head and would thoroughly recommend both versions.

Buy 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die for just £9.99 here.

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Half-term, Halloween and a whole host of activity books!

For many children around the country, next week sees the first half-term break of the school year. Summer really must be over now, then. But fear not! Just because the kids can’t bathe in the sunshine doesn’t mean that they’ll be stuck for things to do while they’re away from the classroom. Our excellent collection of children’s activity books offers an impressive range of tasks for kids to take on, inspiration to get them creative, and plenty of puzzles to keep their brains in gear. So whether you want a rainy day activity (for indoors or out!) browse our selection today. Our ever-low prices will mean you won’t break the bank keeping the kids occupied either.

An absolute Book People favourite, following on from the simple but utterly sensational The Stick Book, Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks have done it again with the brilliant The Wild Weather Book. For just £3.99, this superb little book features over 70 projects to encourage children to brave the outdoors whatever the weather and explore what’s on their doorstep and beyond. From simple things like going on a puddle hunt and making a mud pie to more adventurous expeditions children and adults can embark on together, such as swimming in the rain and building shelters, the ideas are endless! This fabulous guide will see you right through the winter too with its ideas for games in the snow and ice too.

The Wild Weather Book

To keep the kids cosy and warm inside but still silent at mice, the Very Big Maze Book and the Big Doodle Pad are only £3.99 each and are ideal for keeping their brains ticking over. Improving dexterity, concentration skills and helping to unleash their imaginations too, these two creative books are so fun and engaging that youngsters won’t even notice they’re learning as they work through them. Timeless brands that continue to enthrall children are always available at the Book People too – try the inspirational LEGO Play Book (£4.99) which offers a host of ideas as to what kids can build with that box of LEGO bricks, and the brilliantly priced Wally’s Lost Things Collection contains five fantastic books (which work out at less than £1.40 each!) filled with search-and-find puzzles that will make those long journeys if you’re heading away go by in a flash.

Wally's Lost Things Collection - 5 Books

If you’re looking to spend some quality time with the children as you enjoy some time off too, hands-on projects are always great ways to pass grey days and the end results are rewarding for everyone. Why not sit down with your young crafter and stitch and sew some of the gorgeous gifts in Crafty Creatures, you could even start making Christmas presents together. And speaking of upcoming dates for the calendar, Halloween Treats is a simple and spooktacular baking book with 20 recipes for scrummy treats like creepy cakes, ‘blood-filled’ doughnuts and pumpkin cookies. At just £2.99, the price is certainly no trick either!

Halloween Treats

So browse the Book People today to top-up your shelves with great value activity books which will ensure your half-term week is playful, enjoyable and educational!

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